Philadelphia Union return home this weekend for the last time in the 2022 regular season, with a big matchup on Decision Day against Toronto FC. The Union have put themselves in a great spot and have given themselves the chance to close out this incredible campaign with the Eastern Conference regular season title. By getting a result on Sunday, the Union would lock up the number 1 seed, and clinch home field advantage through to the MLS Cup. These are our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.
Down To Decision Day
On Sunday the Union once again will look to secure the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs as CF Montreal has closed the gap to just two points. As the Union look to make the postseason run through Subaru Park, they find themselves in rather unfamiliar territory: bounce back from a loss. After a tough matchup last week in Charlotte, the Union are tasked with playing a difficult Toronto team that was one of the few teams to beat them earlier in the year. Coach Curtin talked today about the importance of rebounding from last week and finishing the season on the right foot before playoffs.
“We are a team, and we win together and we lose together. We had a hiccup, but I do think you can learn something in every loss, and it’s good to get a wakeup call like that, and take one on the chin as you go into the elimination games. We recognize now and we respect the game that in a way, if we start with that ‘not being us,’ you can get punished quickly and in the playoffs, it’s one bad game and you’re done, so I think to get that wake up call can be a positive thing
Toronto currently sits second to last in the Eastern Conference, but don’t let their record fool you as they still have a very dangerous team with the likes of Italian Superstars Insigne and Bernardeschi. Though a difficult matchup, Coach Curtin is confident in his squad to get the job done on Sunday and continue their dominance at home
“We know we need to have a good response versus Toronto, and finish the year strong at home in Subaru Park, in a position where we’ve been unbeaten, so I expect a good response from the group. It’s been a very special season where a lot of new records have been met by this team and this great group of players and staff, and we wanna send our fans home happy on the last day of the regular season and obviously clinch first place in our conference, and know that the road to MLS Cup will go through Subaru Park, where we’ve been a really dangerous, and strong team all season.”
Keepin’ it Real
Due to two yellow cards in the last matchup against Charlotte, left-back Kai Wagner will miss the final regular season game because of suspension, with homegrown Matt Real in line to fill in. This will be Real’s second start of the year for the first team, after starting against the Red Bulls just a few weeks ago. Coach Curtin had nothing but praise for the homegrown as he has big shoes to fill in Wagner’s absence.
“It’s an opportunity for Matt Real, a guy that you guys just haven’t seen how well he’s played, but I’m really proud of Matt and how his season has gone. He’s trained every day at his max, he’s given us good games with Union II, he gave us a good game against Pachuca, and now there’s an opportunity for him to step up when he is called upon, and I have full confidence in Matt that he’ll do his job. He’s a great young left back, and I think people forget just how young he is, and he’s a guy that we’re very fortunate to have as part of our group, and I know he’ll put on a good performance.
The left-back spent some time with the Union II in their season this year, starting 10 games for them and scoring four goals for the MLS NEXT Pro squad. The young defender has shown nothing but promise in his time with the Union organization, which started back in 2018
“We know Matt has a great left foot, he’s one of our best crossers of the ball, he’s got a great engine to get up and down the line, and he’s a good 1v1 defender, so all of those attributes are the reason why Matt Real is with us, and he’s still only a 22 year old left back.”